This word has been on my mind a lot lately. What does it mean? Who deserves it? Should we give it? The definition of forgiveness, is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you. I read that we not only need to understand what forgiveness is but what it is not.

When we forgive, we aren't forgetting, condoning or excusing the offense. There isn't an obligation to reconcile. With forgiveness we are letting go of deeply held negative feelings. By doing this, we are empowered to recognize the pain we have endured, move through that pain (not around it), not let it define you and heal. Healing comes in lots of different ways. I had a friend once tell me that you have to know everything there is to know about the situation and then "take it to the face". Don't fear asking the questions because you don't want to hear the answers. Don't shy away from the hard conversations because those are difficult.

There are times in my life I had extreme avoidance in trauma situations. I would do what I could to maneuver around the situation instead of facing it head on. I would do this by filling my time with meaningless relations, going out, entrenching myself in my kids, friends or hobbies. I didn't want to face it, so I compartmentalized it, forgot it and moved forward. Because as long as one foot was going in front of the other, I was moving and not standing still, which had to be good right? What I learned through years of therapy was, I never allowed myself to find a place for the pain, feel it, understand it, learn from it, heal and then move forward. If we don't, then it arises in future situations when our vulnerability is up and our guard is down. It creeps in like a gas leak... slow but steady. You don't realize what it is at first and before too long it has consumed your thoughts and decisions.

The downside to this healthier way of living is, because I allow myself to "take it to the face"... I am vulnerable beyond words and when something hits... world rocked. I was once told from an energy healer that I was an Empath. Those who are empaths do not just show concern or act sympathetically... They are able to imagine themselves in someone else’s situation. An empath has the ability to physically feel and experience what another person is going through. They literally embody what is going on for other people, and the energy around them. This means their ability to show empathy isn't just huge its literal, physical, intellectual and emotional. What this also means is that when someone harms you not only are you "taking it to the face" but you are taking on their emotions as well, negative or positive. You worry about yourself and your feelings but equally as much about theirs, so you can imagine the level of pain an empath feels all at once.

Remembering that forgiveness isn't something we do for others, it is something we do for ourselves, allows us to release ourselves from the punishment of someone else's crime. Forgiveness allows us to live in the moment... be free. Unload this burden that wasn't ours to carry. In order for us to safeguard ourselves from being a victim of the same offense again we cannot dwell on what happened and rehash it regularly. We don't want to ever forget it either. Instead, we need to remember what happened to us in order to avoid letting it happen again. It’s important that we don’t allow ourselves to be the target of the same mistreatment over and over. Relationships with friends, family and our significant others have the potential to be restored, and even deepen and thrive, not in spite of what happened in the past but because of it.